This Saturday, for the first time in Long Beach, a festival dedicated to Latinx game developers and designers is debuting at the Museum of Latin American Art.

"I used to think about events like this and I was waiting for someone to come up with it so I can go," Jason Vega, event founder, said. "I guess at some point I decided that I needed to stop waiting."

Vega said that he made the decision to put the event together about a year and a half ago. And with about six years of game development experience under his belt, he had a few ideas about how the event should be pieced together.

"The idea started from just conversations I've had at bigger game conferences," he said. "We have to focus more on the Latin American market, an underserved community with less representation in the gaming industry."

Vega added that event was put together on the basis of three principles: First, to bring together major publishers and developers in the video game community to discuss the Latinx market trends and the future of game development.

Second, to connect the Latinx game development community via networking events around the world, starting with Saturday's festival.

And finally, "to work together to provide a platform for rising Latinx talent, welcome new Latinx voices, to honor experimental works, and highlight games developed within Latinx countries; and help build a road map toward sustainable Latinx game development success."

With a small team of friends and connections, Vega said that he reached out to as many networks as he could to bring in talent and organize the event. As a recent transplant from New York City, he added that he wanted to keep the event in Long Beach instead of venturing out into Los Angeles.

"Long Beach is incredibly diverse and with the Museum of Latin American Art right here, I just knew there wasn't a better location than this," he said.

The festival has some big-name sponsors in the industry, too, including Nintendo, XBOX and Niantic, the creators of the virtual reality games Ingress, Pokémon Go, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

"A lot of this is put together by a variety of people trying to plug in where they can to make the event happen," Vega said. "We have had a lot of support already, even with larger developers."

Featured speakers for the event include Tina Sanchez, producer at Apex Legends; Elaine Gomez, game designer at E-Line Media; Danny Pena, founder and host of GamerTag Radio; Coraly Rosario, senior UX designer at Scopely; Fernando Reyes, technical designer at 343 Industries and Halo Infinite; and Trinidad Hermida, diversity and inclusion program manager at Niantic.

By bringing together major players in the gaming industry, as well as diverse Latinx talent, Vega said he hopes to expose more Latinx game developers to larger audiences. All speeches and roundtable discussions will be streamed, recorded, translated and transcribed in English, Spanish and Portuguese, raising the level of accessibility to content to audiences that may not speak English.

"We're trying to include everyone that we can," he said. "Even people who aren't at the event, they can listen to the talks and learn or find inspiration through them, even if they don't live here."

The event will feature plenty of food, some merchandise and a special Pokemon GO event only available during the festival.

"This is a dream scenario for the community, getting everyone together in a smaller environment and celebrating rich cultures and a shared interest in gaming," Vega said. "My biggest goal for this event is to spark an interest and plant a seed of game development within Long Beach."

Tickets are $30 online and parking is available at MoLAA.

The Latinx Games Festival is happening from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave. 

For more information, go to latinxgamesfestival.com.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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